On December 20, 2021, the City of Boston announced a new vaccination mandate, the “Temporary Order Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Indoor Entertainment, Recreation, Dining, and Fitness Venues. the City of Boston â(theâ Order â), or, as City Hall calls it,â B Together â. Unlike the recent New York City mandate, the Boston mandate does not apply to all employers. Instead, the ordinance applies to any entity that operates a âcovered location,â which means:
- Indoor parts of catering establishments offering food and drink, such as restaurants and bars, excluding establishments offering food or drink for off-premises or outside consumption.
- Indoor entertainment, leisure and event venues, such as cinemas, concert or music venues, commercial event venues, party venues, museums and galleries, sports arenas and stadiums covered, convention centers, exhibition halls, theaters, bowling alleys and ‘other leisure centers.
- Indoor gymnasiums and fitness facilities, such as commercial gymnasiums, fitness studios, yoga / pilates / barre / dance studios, boxing gymnasiums, training camps, indoor swimming pools and other facilities used to organize group fitness classes.
The Order covers not only clients, but also full and part-time employees, interns, volunteers and contractors on site. That is, in order for employees to be able to work on site, they must be vaccinated according to this schedule:
- January 15, 2022: Must show proof of at least one dose of vaccination.
- February 15, 2022: Must present evidence of either one dose of a single dose series or two doses of a two dose series.
Proof of vaccination means (1) a CDC COVID-19 vaccination registration card; (2) a digital image of a CDC card; (3) any other official vaccination record from the place where the vaccine was administered; (4) a digital image of the official vaccination record; (5) a letter, digital image or report from a healthcare provider, pharmacy or vaccination site establishing proof of vaccination against COVID-19; or (6) a smartphone app approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the City of Boston (such as Clear Health Pass, Common Pass, Key to NYC, VaxYes, IATA Travel Pass, and Excelsior Pass). The vaccination mandate does not currently require booster shots.
Covered entities must also display a sign at the entrance. It is available here for download in many languages.
There are a number of issues that are not addressed in the Order in Council. In particular, it does not deal with religious or medical accommodations for employees. In the FAQs posted on the City’s website, however, businesses are encouraged to consider reasonable accommodations for “clients” who state that they cannot be medically vaccinated, unless it constitutes a direct threat to the safety of other customers and employees or imposes hardship. In addition, the requirement to confirm the vaccination status of âon-site contractorsâ excludes âpersons entering for a quick and limited purposeâ, but the meaning of this exclusion is unclear.
Once the by-law comes into effect in January, city inspectors will verify compliance. The first offenders will receive a warning. For a second offense, the Boston Public Health Commission may impose fines of up to $ 300 per offense, or the employer may face “further enforcement action.” Although called a âtemporary orderâ, it remains in effect until it is canceled.
Employers are also reminded that the Boston mask mandate remains in effect.
Employers who operate Covered Entities in Boston should take steps to ensure they are in compliance with this Order and consult with legal counsel if necessary. Compliance with the Boston ordinance does not relieve an employer of its obligation to comply with more stringent legal standards that may apply, such as parts of the Federal OSHA ETS.